As has been the case so far in the series, it wasn’t pretty, but as is usually the case with the Heat, they won by outhustling and outworking their opponent. The Knicks’ Julius Randle admitted it after the game, even saying that perhaps the Heat simply wanted it more.
Julius Randle spoke on the Heat getting to more offensive rebounds and loose balls than the Knicks in Game 4.
"Maybe they want it more. I don't know. That's who we've been all year."
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) May 9, 2023
Oftentimes in playoff basketball, the team that emerges victorious won’t do so because it made more shots or got better performances from its stars, but because it won the effort categories.
On Monday, Miami did exactly that.
It outrebounded the Knicks by nine and got five more offensive rebounds. Defensively, it rotated well, especially down the stretch, to prevent Knicks players from getting open looks either from 3-point range or in the paint.
On offense, the Heat moved the ball around well, making that extra pass and sometimes two extra passes in order to get New York’s defense off-balance and find the open man, and it resulted in 28 assists for them, compared to 21 for New York.
For a good portion of the game, the Knicks remained on the Heat’s heels, but there was always a sense that the Heat were still in control. With New York constantly playing catch-up, Jimmy Butler applied the finishing touches. He scored 27 points, and when the Knicks double-teamed him, he destroyed them with his passing and finished the game with 10 assists.
The series is far from over though, as the Knicks have shown some grit and toughness of their own throughout the season. They will be returning home to Madison Square Garden for Game 5, and getting a win there will not be easy for Miami.
But overcoming a 3-1 deficit to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals will be even more difficult for the Knicks, especially against a Heat team that embodies the stuff that champions are made of.